Bedfordshire Police is reminding the public to be wary of rogue traders, after a man received a 12 month suspended sentence for scamming an elderly woman out of £10,000.
Tommy Smith, 18, of Slapton Road, Little Billington, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at a hearing in August. This week (Tuesday) he received a 12 month sentence suspended for 18 months at Luton Crown Court. He must also abide by a curfew and will be monitored via an electronic tag for 12 months.
On June 21, 2017, Smith knocked on the door of an elderly woman’s home in Bedford claiming he was cleaning guttering. After agreeing to having the work done, she withdrew £1,000 which Smith collected the next day.
He continued to return over the following days claiming further work needed to be carried out, and at one stage, took the victim to her bank as she told him she wouldn’t be going into town that day.
The following Tuesday, her bank stopped her from taking any more money out of her account, and when Smith came to collect the money, he found the police waiting for him at her home.
Detective Sergeant Mark Stewart said: “This was a despicable incident where the elderly victim gave Smith money in good faith that he would complete the work he said needed doing. That was never to be, and he cold-heartedly took around £10,000 of her money. Thankfully the incident was reported to the police and we were able to step in.
“It’s beyond belief how a young man could be so heartless in taking the money earned by an elderly lady over her lifetime. I hope that this will show members of the public how these scammers work, and encourage them to think twice if a stranger knocks at the door claiming that work needs to be carried out.”
The police have issued the following advice about rogue traders:
> If you have an unexpected knock on the door never open it to strangers, consider installing a door chain and always keep it on
> If unsure of the visitor’s identity always ask for their ID first and telephone the company they are purporting to be from, and use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory or provided independently by your service provider
> Discuss any work you feel needs carrying out on your property with a relative or friend who can help you find a reputable trader
> Check whether traders are members of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme or the Government Trust Mark scheme
> Don’t agree to any work or sign anything on the spot. Do not be pressured into having any work carried out
> Never pay cash up front and never go to the bank or cash point with a trader
> If you suspect a rogue trader is at your door then call 999